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Elliot Hashtroudi On Bringing The Seasons to Camille Elliot Hashtroudi On Bringing The Seasons to Camille

Elliot Hashtroudi On Bringing The Seasons to Camille

Posted on 02/07/24

It’s been a busy year for Elliot Hashtroudi. Over the last 12 months, the chef has left his role at St John, launched a residency at East London wine bar 107 (formerly P Franco) and been named One to Watch by Code Hospitality. Then, earlier this year he partnered with the group behind Soho institution Duck Soup to open Camille, a new neighbourhood restaurant on the fringes of Borough Market.

“Camille is a bistro,” Elliot explains over coffee at the newly-opened restaurant. “It is our interpretation of regional French dishes. We’re working with farmers directly, working with growers directly, working with some fishermen directly, to champion British produce but cooked in a French style.”

The focus on ingredients runs throughout the Camille menu, with produce and availability the starting point for every menu written by Elliot and his team. “We’re lucky we’ve got farmers and growers that can dictate our menus,” he explains. “our suppliers show us what they’ve got and we write the menu around that. That’s the way it should be and that’s the way it’ll continue to be.”

Working with high quality suppliers shapes the menu in other ways as well, and Elliot credits the discovery of some of his cherished ingredients to the people he works with. “Having a good rapport with suppliers is amazing,” he says. “They’re shouting about their farmers, suggesting we try something or telling us about new produce.”

Elliot highlights the regeneratively-farmed meat on the menu, as well as sustainable fish and British grown vegetables including purple sprouting broccoli and Jerusalem artichokes. The produce-first approach is reflected in standout dishes on the menu ranging from whole gurnards and langoustine cassoulets to onglet steak courtesy of Farmer Tom Jones. Then there are the devilled eggs, topped with smoked eel from Britain’s only sustainable eel supplier based in Devon.

While this seasonality is important to Elliot in general, it also guarantees that the food he serves is at its prime when it lands on the plate at Camille. “Let’s get stuff when it’s at its peak; when it’s at its best,” he says. “Why would you not enjoy something when it’s at its best?”

Elliot’s approach to ingredients – an approach which values high quality produce, grown sustainable and harvested seasonally – has been forged throughout his career in the kitchen. His earliest days were spent in Mayfair, working in a fine dining restaurant that was “just about making things look as fancy as possible on a plate.” From there, Elliot moved on to Padella where he began working with more British produce and local growers. “It opened my eyes to it, and it got me excited about food again.” After his stint at Padella, Elliot joined the London institution – and nose-to-tail pioneer – St John.

“It really highlighted what Britain has to offer,” he remembers of his time at the famed restaurant. “The nose to tail approach is what I loved. That’s the same thing I carry on and I’ll keep carrying it on for the rest of my chef career, getting the whole animal in and using every single element of it.” The menu at Camille includes a pig’s head schnitzel, and the restaurant team also cure their own pigs cheeks, make their own lardo and render unused fat down or make it into suet. “Nothing goes to waste,” Elliot says.

While Elliot has embraced seasonality and an ingredient-led approach more and more as his career has gone on, he has found a receptive audience for his produce-first cooking. “It’s rewarding as a chef, but it’s also so important that people do see that seasonality,” he says. Alongside seasonality, locality is also important to Elliot, meaning that he can use the Camille menu to focus on the abundance of produce coming out of Britain.

“For me, it’s really important to champion British produce,” Elliot explains, although there are certain additions – like Carlingford oysters – from slightly further afield. “There’s an abundance of great quality ingredients here. It’s about using sustainable ingredients and working with farmers directly to make sure that we not only get the best produce, but also that we have things that are thriving.”

An example of Elliot’s passion for ingredients and produce can be seen in his approach to seafood, which features prominently on the Camille menu. Rather than erring on the side of safety and working with species of fish that everyone knows, Elliot instead tries to champion less popular – but equally delicious – varieties. “If it’s not sustainable, or if it’s overfished, we’re not putting it on the menu,” he says. “It’s about keeping the fish sustainable and keeping these waters as amazing as they always have been.”

To achieve this, Camille work with their fish supplier to find a home for fish that has been harder to sell, including varieties like dogfish, wrasse or whiting that many people are unfamiliar with. “We take that off their hands, transform it into a new product and showcase it on the menu,” Elliot says. “It’s about using that amazing produce that people wouldn’t normally be drawn to.”

Camille’s French influence extends beyond the cooking and approach to ingredients. Elliot has family there, and visits to France shaped every aspect of the restaurant. “I spent a lot of time there, just really absorbing as much as I could,” he says. “Produce wise, ingredients wise and the way that people eat there is just amazing. It’s been so nice to see that happening at Camille. We see people come in and sit down for three or four hours, just talking and ordering wine.”

It's only been a couple of months since Elliot and the team opened the doors to Camille, but it’s already building a reputation. A huge part of that is Elliot’s approach to cooking and his focus on using the best ingredients available, something that has been honed over years in different kitchens and can now be put into effect. Another part of it is something harder to put your finger on: the atmosphere they’ve created.

“A couple of people have said they don’t know how we’ve managed to make a neighbourhood restaurant on the edge of Borough Market,” Elliot laughs. “But it’s so nice to see it, and it’s so rewarding that people are really enjoying themselves when they get here.”

This article was written as part of SLOP magazine's takeover of Katto's journal. To pick up a copy of the magazine for free, become a Katto Rewards member here.

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